— 1 —
The hardest role…the most difficult job…I will have, and have it for the rest of my life, is that of a father. I’ve been a dad for seventeen years. What I’ve learned is that whether for seventeen or seventy (should I live to be 98) I will never stop being a dad and all that role implies. I realize we live in a society that has marginalized fathers, is hostile to them, and finds them wholly unnecessary. Laws and societal norms have been changed and pushed them to the side to the point to where men themselves have thrown up their hands and surrendered in weakness, abdicating their role to the spiritus mundi.
Folly. Weakness. Madness.
I am a father. I am also a dad. My job is not to be my children’s best friend. I challenge them. I correct them. I discipline them. I help and guide, and I try to trust them enough to step out and make their own mistakes once in awhile. When they do I’m there for them. I make mistakes as I’m still learning, too.
And I love them.
I do not abandon them. I practice instead self-abandonment when necessary.
I do not come first. I sacrifice. But I still am a line in the sand. As they get older and more responsible that line becomes more pliable. But it will always be there in case they ask for guidance.
It’s a very hard and frustrating role. It is also the most fulfilling, awesome, amazing thing I will ever do in this lifetime. I will continue to do it for as long as I breathe no matter how much my government or the surrounding culture of experts attempts to fashionably redefine it or tell me I’m unnecessary and a relic of a quaint but distant and unenlightened era.
It’s a challenge to be a father. So I’m not surprised so many men fail or quit.
Along the same lines I saw this pop up on Facebook this week. Reinforcement.
At age 13, I went to my dad to complain about a situation where I didn’t think I was being treated fairly by a coach. My dad listened very closely to the whole story and then looked at me and told me something that stuck with me for the rest of my life… He simply said, “Work harder”, and walked away. Lesson learned. Stop whining and get to work. Instead of rescuing, excusing and enabling our kids by blaming others and fighting battles for them, or going immediately to the AD, principal and school board to demand the coach be fired… think about teaching our kids the simple wisdom of taking responsibility for your own situation. – Proactive Coaching status update on Facebook, April 22, 2013.
— 2 —
Last weekend my oldest and I watched Terrence Malick’s 1998 film The Thin Red Line. He and I have become Malick fans after 2011’s Tree of Life and decided to check out this film. We both agreed it was an excellent film, but at three hours it tended to drag in a few spots. This is not a movie review however. I wanted to highlight a series of questions we heard as the internal thoughts of one of the main characters, Private Witt played by Jim Caviezel. The movie takes place during 1942 at Guadalcanal during World War 2 and provides a glimpse of the brutality and inhumanity of warfare.
We were a family. How’d it break up and come apart, so that now we’re turned against each other? Each standing in the other’s light. How’d we lose that good that was given us? Let it slip away. Scattered it, careless. What’s keepin’ us from reaching out, touching the glory? ~ Private Witt, The Thin Red Line
I’ve asked myself these same questions a lot lately with regards to our nation…our world…right here in 2013. Two nights ago I found my answer during my nightly reading from Divine Intimacy (Baronius Press, 2010):
To be able to recognize and meet God in every creature, even in the ones that hurt us, offend us, or make us suffer, and in every happening, even the most disagreeable, painful, and disturbing ones—this is a great secret of the interior life. Then the world becomes an open book, on every page of which is written in large letters the one word: God. Before God, His will, His permission, His plans, everything else becomes secondary; we see how stupid it is to fix our gaze on creatures, which are, as it were, only a veil which hides the Creator. We need, however, assiduous practice before we can reach such deep faith.
In my contacts with my neighbor … I can form the habit of greeting Our Lord, present in every creature. … I can see the expression of God’s will in all circumstances—great, small, or even minute—which cause me boredom, uneasiness, suffering, increase of labor, or change of plans. I must learn to see them as the many means which God is using to make me practice virtue—patience, generosity, charity. My hours of prayer must serve to show me all the details of my life in this supernatural light, so that I may always be able to find Our Lord in them.
Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., #163 – The Spirit of Faith (p.473)
We were created in God’s image. But we stopped believing in God. Once we did that our fellow man was no longer an inherently beautiful and unique soul to whom we showed love, patience or understanding. He or she became nothing more than an accident of biology; a mass of cells, muscles and bone. YOLO!
We were created in God’s image. As God and the Son are one, we are made in Jesus’ image as well. Christ is in all of us. Jesus was clear about this in Matthew 25:35-45.
…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’
We are to do this. We fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends and strangers. As some fathers have abdicated their roles to their families we as a nation are abdicating our roles to a faceless bureaucracy and what some such as Senator Harry Reid would have us believe is an “inherently good” government. The same government that turns a blind eye and even advocates the dismemberment and murder of the most helpless among us. The same government that went house-to-house in Watertown, MA, kicking families out into the street with armor-plated storm troopers without warrants (goodbye 4th amendment) or ordering them to stay inside, cowering without protection afforded them by the 2nd amendment because they had willingly given up those rights to be sheep.
Like it or not we are called to be sheep to a shepherd. Americans are choosing to be sheep all right. But not sheep following the Good Shepherd.
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A respite from all of that to what remains my goal in the next few years:
Walk the Camino and you will never forget entering the forests at sunrise, when the full moon still hangs like an earring from pine branches. The air is cool and fresh, the silence as palpable as an empty cathedral. Many mornings you are the one who awakens the birds so they can begin chirping. How simple it is—walk, eat, sleep, pray—and how overwhelmingly variegated it becomes. Cross 20 rivers and streams, hike through a dozen picturesque villages—many that haven’t changed much since medieval times—trek over a mountain pass or two, and soon you cannot remember half the beauty of a morning, let alone a week. A month down the road and you no longer remember the person you were when you began.
— 4 —
Confession: Last Sunday after drinking some coffee much too late in the day and finding myself wide awake instead of in bed, I tried to watch the popular television series Mad Men. It wasn’t the first time I’ve tried. Of course I’ve read all about it and how it’s the bees knees and the coolest, bestest show in the history of television or something. I lasted just twelve minutes and one commercial break before I wanted to punch Don Draper (the main character we hear sooooooooo much about) in the face. Based upon everything I’ve read by critics and fans of the show he’s pretty much the ass they say he is. Why in the world would I invite that cretin into my home every week? To make myself feel better because I’m not him?
So I watched 2.5 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer until 2:00am instead. Comfort food.
(Please don’t write to tell me this is inconsistent with what I wrote above in Section 2. Mad Men is a television show (I’d argue it’s a cartoon, just as Buffy was) and the characters are not real. But the Mad Men cartoon pisses me off. I don’t watch cartoons to be pissed off.)
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As for one of the truly greatest shows in the history of television, if you grew up during the 70s and early 80s you were spending a part of your Saturday nights in front of the tv watching The Carol Burnett Show. And while every week provided a highlight, on this day, Carol Burnett’s 80th birthday, I present what for me is the funniest moment from that show of shows.
Happy birthday Carol. And have a great week everyone!